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Man United’s title problem on maintain till they improve defensive choices

WEST BROMWICH, England — It took 83 seconds for West Bromwich Albion to indicate why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs — and Manchester United want — a brand new centre-back.

Conor Gallagher swung in a hopeful cross from the proper and Mbaye Diagne barrelled by means of Victor Lindelof to go previous goalkeeper David De Gea. De Gea may need come for the cross, and Diagne was throughout Lindelof, nevertheless it was a frighteningly straightforward means for West Brom, the bottom scorers within the Premier League, to breach Manchester United’s defence.

It was the thirty first aim Solskjaer’s crew have conceded within the league this season, rating twelfth in that class. It arrange a 1-1 draw on the Hawthorns on Sunday, as United have now dropped 9 factors of their final 5 video games.

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“It’s something we knew would happen from the kick-off. We knew they’d put us under pressure and put in a few throw-ins,” mentioned Solskjaer. “They put a cross in, and [Diagne] finished well. We should play better, but we gave ourselves a tough start. You have 90 minutes to make amends, but we didn’t build that momentum until late in the first half.”

There’s a lot to love about Solskjaer’s aspect — particularly, the resilience they present to battle again from dropping positions so usually — however not their tendency to defend as if eager to make each sport as tough as potential.

Because the flip of the yr, they’ve shot themselves within the foot towards Sheffield United, Everton and West Brom, permitting Manchester Metropolis to open up a seven-point lead on the high. If Metropolis proceed their imperious run of type, which already stands at 16 straight wins, Solskjaer’s focus will quickly flip to how he will bridge the hole.

He may be buoyed by the truth that United have made appropriate progress, even going high of the league for a spell in January, and that in Bruno Fernandes — who scored a spectacular equaliser on the finish of the primary half — he has some of the efficient attacking midfielders in Europe. But they should make up floor someplace if the await a title goes to finish below Solskjaer’s watch, and the targets towards column would counsel central defence is an space that might be upgraded.

Solskjaer has invested closely in Harry Maguire and already made him captain, but when the controversy is about who ought to be his long-term accomplice, it was not a day that noticed Lindelof do a lot to push his case. The Sweden worldwide will maybe really feel he was fouled by Diagne for West Brom’s opener, however he ought to have been stronger, and the striker on mortgage from Galatasaray was the one one who regarded decided to win Gallagher’s cross.

Lindelof struggled with Diagne all through the 90 minutes and after being penalised for one clumsy foul on the midway line, Solskjaer raced to the sting of his technical space to shout: “Victor, think!” It may need been worse for Lindelof late on, when he was wrestled out of the way in which by Diagne, who bought on the tip of Conor Townsend’s cross, however could not drive it in.

In the long run, Solskjaer will really feel United ought to have received — significantly after Sam Johnstone’s fantastic save to tip Maguire’s late header onto the submit — however as a substitute, they paid a excessive value for a sloppy second with barely two minutes on the clock. Against this, the successful run to place Man Metropolis in pole place to raise the title has been constructed on a defence that is conceded simply two league targets in 2021. Pep Guardiola has benefited from the funding in Ruben Dias in the summertime and Solskjaer ought to be considering alongside comparable traces.

“I didn’t feel we created enough big moments to score the goals,” mentioned Solskjaer.

“We did get down the sides, but maybe the cross or the positioning or the movement wasn’t there. We didn’t have big moments where you thought that should have been a goal even though the ball was in their last third all the time. It is disappointing, of course. We have come away with two points less than we wanted to. The start was difficult.”

Man Metropolis will stretch their result in 10 factors earlier than United play once more if they will beat Everton at Goodison Park on Wednesday. Solskjaer will not be able to concede the title simply but, however the fact is that subsequent season might current a greater alternative if continued progress may be married with the proper gamers, together with a brand new centre-back, coming on this summer season.

“It’s a compliment for the boys that we got into the position we are now,” mentioned the Norwegian. “We won’t let [Manchester City] run away with it — we’re playing them soon. We’re not giving it away early, no we’re not.”

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